Traditional Ciders encompass those produced in the West Country of England (notably Somerset and Herefordshire), Northern France (notably Normandy and Brittany), and other regions in which cider-specific apple varieties and production techniques are used to achieve a profile similar to traditional English and French ciders.
Most ciders in the English style will be entered in the Traditional – Dry class (sweetness level is dry or medium-dry). Most ciders in the French style will be entered in the Traditional – Sweet class (sweetness level is medium, medium-sweet, or sweet). These levels indicate an overall tendency, not a sharp delineation between the sweetness of typical English and French ciders.
English: This includes the English “West Country” ciders and other ciders inspired by that style. These ciders are made with bittersweet and bittersharp apple varieties cultivated specifically for cider making. English ciders are traditionally fermented and aged in wood barrels, which adds some character; however, the barrels used are rarely new, so there is no overt wood character.
French: This includes styles from Normandy and Brittany and other ciders inspired by those styles, including ciders made by various techniques to achieve the French flavor profile. These ciders are made with bittersweet and bittersharp apple varieties cultivated specifically for cider making.
Traditional French procedures use small amounts of salt and calcium compounds (calcium chloride, calcium carbonate) to aid the process of pectin coagulation. These compounds may be used, pre-fermentation, but in limited quantity. It is a fault if judges can detect a salty or chalky taste. The enzyme PME (pectin methyl esterase) may also be used pre-fermentation for pectin coagulation.
English: No overt apple character, but various flavors and esters that suggest apples, particularly tannic varieties. English-style ciders commonly go through malolactic fermentation (MLF) which produces desirable spicy/smoky, phenolic, and farmyard/old-horse characters. These flavor notes are positive but not required. If present, they must not dominate; in particular, the phenolic and farmyard notes should not be heavy. A strong farmyard character without spicy/smoky or phenolic suggests a Brettanomyces contamination, which is a fault. Mousiness is a serious fault.
French: Fruity character/aroma. This may come from slow or arrested fermentation (in the French technique of défécation) or approximated by back-sweetening with juice. Tends to a rich fullness. MLF notes of spicy-smoky, phenolic, and farmyard are common but not required (just as with English style), and must not be pronounced. The French expect more subtle MLF character than do the English.
English: Barely cloudy to brilliant. Medium yellow to amber color.
French: Clear to brilliant, medium yellow to amber color.
English: Full. Moderate to high tannin, perceived as astringency and some bitterness. Carbonation still to moderate. Bottle-fermented or bottle-conditioned ciders may have high carbonation, up to champagne levels, but not gushing or foaming.
French: Typically made sweet to balance the tannin levels from the traditional apple varieties.Medium to sweet, full-bodied, rich. Medium to full, mouth-filling. Moderate tannin, perceived mainly as astringency. Carbonation moderate to champagne-like, but at higher levels it must not gush or foam.
English: Generally dry, full-bodied, austere. Complex flavor profile, long finish.
French: Typically made sweet to balance the tannin levels from the traditional apple varieties.Medium to sweet, full-bodied, rich.
English: Sweet examples exist, but dry is most traditional, particularly when considering the drying contributions of tannin.
French: Typically made sweet to balance the tannin levels from the traditional apple varieties.
English: Entrants MUST specify carbonation level (3 levels). Entrants MUST specify sweetness level (5 levels). Entrants MAY specify apple variety or varieties; if specified, varietal character will be expected.
French: Entrants MUST specify carbonation level (3 levels). Entrants MUST specify sweetness level (typically medium, medium-sweet, or sweet). Entrants MAY specify apple variety or varieties; if specified, varietal character will be expected.
English: Kingston Black, Stoke Red, Dabinett, Porter’s Perfection, Nehou, Yarlington Mill, Major, various Jerseys, etc.
French: Nehou, Muscadet de Dieppe, Reine des Pommes, Michelin, etc.
English: OG: 1.050 – 1.075 FG: 0.995 – 1.015 ABV: 6 – 9%
French: OG: 1.050 – 1.065 FG: 1.010 – 1.020 ABV: 3 – 6%